Winter song alternatives to holiday carols

By Guadalupe Pinedo

Every year it seems radio stations start playing holiday music earlier and earlier. No matter the station, every one of them plays some rendition of “Jingle Bells,” “The Little Drummer Boy,” or “Frosty the Snowman” at least once a day ” even in commercials.

David Kopplin, professor of commercial music at Cal Poly Pomona’s music department, explains that holiday music triggers memories, and perhaps some people don’t like holiday music because it reminds them of bad experiences.

“The reason these tunes linger, I think, is that they are ‘accepted’ by many generations,” said Kopplin. “I think that these tunes are engrained in our psyche this time of year because they are played at the mall, on the radio, in television shows and in holiday movies. It is hard to avoid the classics.”

Stacy Cabral (’15, liberal studies) enjoys the classics because they remind her of her childhood.

“I like Christmas songs, reminds me of when I was growing up and we would listen to them as kids,” said Cabral. “I love listening to them now with my kids.”

While many people enjoy holiday music, there are other people out there who would prefer to turn their radios off until January.

Wendy Contreras (’16, animal health science) enjoys non-traditional holiday music because it gives her the same feeling that traditional songs do.

“It makes me feel good, I feel everyone benefits from it because it makes everyone forget about the non-important stuff,” said Contreras.

These unconventional tracks still capture the spirit of the holidays even if they don’t sound like a standard Christmas song.

Joni Mitchell ‘River’

Released in 1971, this is not your traditional Christmas song. Although it starts with a piano melody similar to “Jingle Bells,” the song is actually about the end of a relationship and the heartbreak that comes along with it. The Washington Post called it a “thoroughly depressing” song. Because it takes place so close to Christmas time and it has many references to the holidays, this unconventional song has become a very popular holiday tune over the years.

The Doors ‘Wintertime Love’

This song is probably considered the closest the band ever came to releasing a Christmas song. Off the band’s first and only No. 1 album, “Waiting for the Sun,” the song references seasonal themes throughout and talks about spending winter with a loved one. For those who don’t like the “romantic” holiday music like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” The Doors deliver with this track.

Fleet Foxes ‘White Winter Hymnal’

The name is deceiving and is most likely the only reference to a holiday. The meaning is ambiguous and that may be why it has become a popular song since its debut in 2008. Lead singer and songwriter Robin Pecknold told Mojo magazine in January 2009 that he “intended this gently uplifting song to be something to hum along to as you do the dishes.” The vocal arrangements, harmonies and lyrics create a strong image of the passage of seasons.

Mumford & Sons ‘Winter Winds’

Released in 2009 from the band’s debut album “Sigh No More,” “Winter Winds” speaks about reflecting on the past year. The holidays are about spending time with family, but they are also about looking back at the successes and failures we’ve experienced throughout the year. “Winter Winds” perfectly captures all of that while looking forward to the future. It’s melancholic but uplifting and optimistic.

Sick Puppies ‘That Time of Year’

Like Mumford & Sons, this song by Sick Puppies will have you reflecting on past experiences. Released by the Australian rock band, “That Time of Year” is a song that doesn’t come off as a holiday song, but its lyrics like, “It’s cold out this morning/You should be getting into bed/Can’t believe it’s that time/Of year again,” are still reminiscent to those of traditional holiday tracks. The song was released as part of the soundtrack for the TV show NCIS.

The Killers ‘Boots’

This was The Killers’ fifth Christmas song, released in 2010. It is another song that speaks about the troubles of the past, being able to put all the bad stuff behind you and looking forward to the new year. The lyrics indirectly express the ideal white Christmas and how wonderful that life can be. The Killers have a very unique sound that wouldn’t make you think they would release this type of music, but it works very well. “Boots” has become their most successful Christmas single to date.

All of those who enjoy every aspect of the holidays except the music can consider adding these fine tunes to their playlists this year.

The Killers

Courtesy of Island Records

The Killers

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